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No. 1 heading into the Players'

If 2010 Olympic gold medalist Kevin Martin wins next week's Grey Power Players' Championship, it will add just a bit more lustre to a season in which he has shone so brightly already.

If 2010 Olympic gold medalist Kevin Martin wins next week's Grey Power Players' Championship, it will add just a bit more lustre to a season in which he has shone so brightly already.

He's still basking in the afterglow of his gold medal win in Vancouver in late February. That was the culmination of a four-year plan that began when he teamed up with third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert with the aim of taking the top prize in Vancouver.

"It was a lot of hard work and it was all about the process. Our four-year plan as a team was exactly that - to try and get to Vancouver and ultimately win there. It was a lot of hard work and we stuck to the program and we believed in the process and it panned out."

Martin and his Olympic champion rink go into the competition next week at the EnCana Events Centre as the top ranked of 16 men's teams. He opens play Wednesday morning when he takes on 16th-seeded Jake Higgs.

That shouldn't be much of a match for "K-Mart" who has been to the Olympics three times, the Brier 10 times and the world championship four times. He has 11 Grand Slam victories, four national titles and a world title on his resumé.

However, once the lower ranked rinks are out of the way the competition will, no doubt, get much tougher.

"Because of the Grand Slam events - there are four of them every year and spread out across the year - and the Players' championship is the best one at the end. But all of them have made such a difference because you can go head to head with the best teams more often on excellent ice conditions and what that does is elevate the level of play for all the teams," explained the Edmonton skip.

Some of the other top rinks who Martin may meet include Glenn Howard, Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe, Jeff Stoughton and Randy Ferbey.

The field of Canadian male curlers is unbelievably deep. For example, Koe is the Canadian champion and presently at the world championships in Italy, yet he's ranked only fourth for next week's competition.

"It is really strong. You have Koe going through the worlds (championship) like crazy. And Glenn (Howard) of course, and (Randy) Ferbey and (Mike) McEwan and Bob Ursul and Wayne Middaugh. We have so much depth in Canada right now and I guess we just have to ride that wave because it won't last forever."

Along with the opportunity to play the best in the business, Martin will also have a large following in the crowd. His wife has many relatives in this area and Martin is looking forward to seeing them next week.

"It is going to be so much fun for myself because there are my cousins and in-laws, and we will know a huge amount of the crowd, and it will be really good to come up and visit with family and friends."

The Dawson Co-op is inviting the public to meet Team Kevin Martin on Thursday, April 15th in the Dawson Co-op Café. Fans can join them for breakfast and autographs. Tickets are $15.99 and include breakfast and a meet 'n' greet with the team. All proceeds from the breakfast will be donated to the Child Development Centre.